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In photos: Behind the scenes at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Visitors to Victoria conservatory can see caterpillars in chrysalises grow wings

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Visitors to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens at this time of year can see caterpillars in chrysalises grow wings. The 12,000-square-foot indoor tropical conservatory is open all year, with peak season in the dead of summer. In this photo, a few species of butterflies are shown at the conservatory, located in central Saanich, B.C., on April 5, 2013.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

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Kurtis Herperger, gardens manager at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, holds a blue morpho caterpillar on a leaf in his office. “As the days start to get longer, so many things start to wake up,” says Mr. Herperger. “Different plants and flowers and many of our species start breathing and reproducing within the gardens.”

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

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New white tree nymphs, approximately 15 minutes old, rest near their chrysalis to dry out in the emerging room, a glass display showcasing the entire life-cycle of several tropical species of butterflies and moths. The average life span of a butterfly is 4-6 weeks. The conservatory maintains a minimum of 3,000 butterflies.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

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“It’s an ugly insect with balls of slime hanging off it, but within two minutes those balls of slime are a beautiful immaculate butterfly wing,” says Mr. Herperger.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

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The Scarlet Mormon, a species of butterfly from the Philippines, can measure between 120 and 144 millimetres. The gardens have anywhere between 50 and 70 butterfly species at a given time – all of them foreign to Canada.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

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